ContemporaryWe Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver


I read this book several years ago, long before I became a mother myself and it’s a book that, quite honestly, has never left me. In fact, I think about it much more often now, having had children of my own — because underlying this harrowing novel is perhaps the ultimate question of them all: nature or nurture?

The story is shocking to say the least, with a twist in the plot that I guessed before the big reveal yet it still managed to leave me utterly unnerved and horrified. I’m not exaggerating when I say this book gave me nightmares. Still, I call it a Friday Favourite. And, even more than that, I implore you to read it. 

Told from the perspective of Eva, Kevin’s mother, in a series of letters to her husband, Franklin, it will absorb you in the way that only this sort of narrative can. I read somewhere that this is beautiful prose about ugly things and I certainly agree — Shriver is an astonishingly talented writer, writing about some of the most horrible of human experiences. I know that some find her prose convoluted and overly flowery in these letters to her spouse, but all I can say is, for me, it completely worked.

Eva never wanted to be a mother; certainly not to Kevin. Would *anyone* want to be a mother to Kevin, though? But would Kevin’s path have been different had his mother been able to bond with him? Indeed, Shriver herself has commented on the split in terms of readership; those who see Kevin as truly born evil and those who view him as a victim of the circumstances around him — primarily, a mother who ultimately, didn’t really want him.

I challenge you to read this and not continue thinking about the issues it raises. Gripping and terrifying, what is perhaps scariest of all is, through the sheer horror, how very, very real it is indeed.

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